What stops the young, fit and strong from stealing wealth and assets from the elderly, weak and infirm? Of course the very wealthy can afford to employ other young, fit and strong persons who will protect them just as long as their weekly wedge gives them more than killing their employer and taking their stuff. If you want to see just how this works in practice in a society devoid of law or justice, watch a few episodes of Narcos on Netflix. The drugs markets and the lawless societies in which the kingpins flourish are the true example of free markets - power, wealth, ruthlessness and inhumanity are the qualities favoured in this environment of accelerated evolution. A wholly free market would mean not only food and toilet paper but ICU beds, ventilators, vaccines and medical resources would accrue to the wealthiest or those with the biggest guns. So be careful what you wish for.
Research has shown consistently that when faced with great risk and great uncertainty, and with unknown outcomes, we humans will opt for a social safety-net model every time. We will vote for a minimum-provision-for-everyone model when none of us can be sure we will not require it ourselves. But we will also vote for the opportunity to better one's lot - whether that means keeping hens or retaining our existing store-cupboards and hoard of silver. And this model needs a functioning state that can exercise a greater power than any individuals, that can enforce law and justice and protect the weak and vulnerable. It doesn't have to be a big State, or an intrusive state, but it does have to be able to execute the collective will. Expressed through the secret ballot by universal suffrage and the right of free association.
Anyone here who really wants a wholly free market, take yourself off to Mexico or Colombia. Anyone here who really wants a socialist paradise, take yourself off to Venezuela. No? No takers? OK, so I guess we're just discussing where the floor should be in our social-democratic model, then, and the degree of freedom individuals can exercise under various condition of risk, threat and uncertainty.
That we're having to discuss such things for the first time in this new century is actually a good thing. That we've got the internet on which to do so makes this discussion different from the discussions we had in 1850 or 1917 or 1945. Excellent!